Spread Stevenage hospital’s culture of care across NHS in Herts, says secretary of state
- Credit: Archant
A political VIP who headed the guest list at the official opening of the Lister Hospital’s new emergency department told staff this afternoon: New buildings are great, but it’s people that really make the difference.
Secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt joined nursing staff at the Stevenage hospital to perform the unveiling of a plaque to mark the completion of the £40 million unit, which has been in operation for several months.
Before he stepped up to do the honours, the special guest paid tribute to all those who had played a part in making the state of the art facility a reality.
He name-checked local MPs Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Sir Oliver Heald (North East Herts) and Peter Lilley (Hitchin & Harpenden), saying that he and they were very proud of such a huge step forward for health facilities available to their constituents.
He praised the ‘extraordinary leadership’ of East & North Herts NHS Trust chief executive Nick Carver for fostering a culture of putting patients first and foremost in everything they do.
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“Buildings matter, but it’s the staff inside them who are your best asset,” he said, praising both paid staff and more than 1,000 volunteers who help the giant Coreys Mill Lane site run smoothly.
“We face many challenges, and the biggest is our ageing population,” he said. “Since the last general election the number of people aged over 65 has increased by more than a million, and there will be another million over the next five year period, too.”
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That would bring extra pressures to bear on the health service, and the challenge of making sure each patient was treated as an individual.
That was a culture which was evident at the Lister, he said, and he told staff: “You can spread that culture across the NHS in Hertfordshire. You can blaze that trail because of what you do here.”
Before Mr Hunt unveiled the plaque, helped by long-serving senior sister Liz Hall and staff nurses Charlene Hollingworth and Megan Lawrence, Mr Carver had explained how staff at the Lister had played a key role in designing the new facilities – part of a £150 million facelift at the Stevenage site in recent years – and he thanked them for their hard work and co-operation during major building works.
He also thanked community partners, including local authorities and other bodies, for their tremendous assistance and great forbearance over many years to help the project come to fruition.
County political leaders deserved credit for their enduring support for the Lister, he said, and he also thanked the government for finding such a huge sum in difficult economic times to transform the facilties available to patients from across the district.
Sir Oliver Heald, backed by parliamentary colleagues Mr McPartland and Mr Lilley, will be presenting a petition in the House of Commons on Tuesday calling for a satellite radiotherapy unit for cancer patients to be established at the Lister, saving them a long and often arduous journey to Mount Vernon Hospital in north=west London.
Mr Hunt said that any such appeal would be judged on its clinical merits, but he conceded that the impressive range of healthcare options now available on the Lister site meant that it could be considered a credible option for such a move.